PARTY dilemma

Ido lekota

Ido lekota

The new divide within the ANC is no longer about who supports Jacob Zuma or President Thabo Mbeki but whether Mbeki should be allowed to make a dignified exit by voluntarily resigning or suffer the humiliation of being voted out by a two-third majority in Parliament.

This is after Pietermaritzburg Judge Chris Nicholson inferred on Friday that Mbeki interfered with the charging and multiple attempts to prosecute Zuma.

In his comments Judge Nicholson spoke of "baleful political influence", and agreed with Zuma that the corruption case against him appeared to be part of a strategy linked to the battle with Mbeki for the ANC leadership.

Judge Nicholson, delivering judgment in the Pietermaritzburg high court, said the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) latest bid to charge Zuma was invalid. The NPA had failed to allow Zuma to make representation, as required by the Constitution, before he could be charged.

Following the ruling, there have been calls by Zuma supporters within the tripartite alliance, the ANCYL and the Young Communist League for Mbeki to be axed.

Mbeki's future is expected to be discussed at the ANC's national executive committee meeting which starts on Friday. Cosatu and the SACP have also indicated they would hold meetings to discuss Mbeki's fate.

Yesterday, ANC insiders revealed that there were those, including ANC president Jacob Zuma, who wanted to give Mbeki the option to make a dignified exit by resigning.

"Zuma would allow Mbeki to exit with dignity by voluntarily resigning. He has been hurt by the political campaign against him but he still regards Mbeki as a comrade," said an NEC member.

On Friday Zuma led his supporters in song, saying his body was full of wounds inflicted by people he grew up with in the ANC. This was seen as a reference to how he felt betrayed by people such as Mbeki.

But the insider said Zuma would not want to act vindictively against Mbeki and allow him to be publicly humiliated by having a motion of no confidence in Parliament.

There were, however, the "hawks" who would enjoy seeing Mbeki suffering this public humiliation.

"For them this is an opportunity to pay back Mbeki for what he did to Zuma - when he fired him without any reason to replace him with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the wife of someone [Bulelani] who has been proven to have been part of a political plot," said an ANCYL national executive member.

If Mbeki resigns, Zuma must first be sworn-in as an MP before he can take over as president.

Two-thirds of MPs would need to support the motion of no confidence in Parliament to remove Mbeki.

If Mbeki lost the vote, Speaker Baleka Mbete would become acting president and would need to convene Parliament to elect a new president within 30 days as stipulated by the Constitution.